The Best Winter Running Motivation: Key West

Living in the South during another ho-drum winter gives me little inspiration for anything but running. I run the neighborhood; I run this city; I run with groups; I run by myself; I run to escape.

The thing is that I hate running! Despise it. It’s nothing I ever did before until early in 2016. Here’s what happened that changed that…

My husband had been trying for several years to convince me running a local 10K was the most important thing in life I could ever accomplish. I’m no easy sale; I wasn’t buying it. However, being a good little wifey means sometimes you have to make concessions.  So this year I compromised and told him to enter us in the lottery and IF we’re selected, I’ll begin training and will run the 10K with him. We were selected! Of course, we were!! I’ve never won a thing in my life, but I won that entry lottery, for sure!

So I began training. I joined a 10K training program through my local track club. …and didn’t hate it. I showed up almost every week. I ran my best times with the group. I felt like a runner, even though I still can’t finish a mile without walking some, but really that’s not important here. The important thing to remember is that I was, in fact, running.

Now as good as that all sounds, it’s not very inspirational to me; remember the whole “I hate running” thing I said earlier? It still applies. Additionally, I lived in Florida for nearly 20 years. Going to the beach several times during the rest of the country’s cold winter months was a rite of passage I’d grown to love. Taking Christmas beach photos was a requirement for our family. Spending the entire winter bundled up in a sweatshirt with my shorts is what I craved. My “winter” flip flops are not getting much use here in the Great North (which is what I lovingly call my Georgia home, although I do have friends in the ACTUAL Great North who laugh at me…but let them laugh because GA is MY Great North!).

This year, I stumbled upon a plan greater than all other plans, and it’s a damn good plan if I do say so myself! I’ve taken my husband’s pride in my running achievements this year and parlayed it into a Key West Retreat that will also serve as my birthday celebration this year! I know; I know…genius idea!  I have one every now and then.

I pitched the idea to my husband, and as always, he was fully supportive.  I registered for the half, secured lodging for the week, and booked the plane tickets. I’m on my way to my first half marathon…and I get a little reprieve from the Great Northern winter!

But the limits to my plan making have no boundaries, as I’ve learned and yet for some reason still continue to push those limits. I then decided that I should probably run a “practice” half marathon to see if I can do it. “Really, how dumb are you?” is what you’re thinking. I know because I often think it myself. The answer is hidden somewhere beneath a huge pile of active files on my desk, I’m sure.

After adding a 10-Mile run and another half marathon to my fall running calendar, and completing both, I’ve now taken a short break from running. I survived them and have sufficiently beaten myself up mentally for even thinking such an endeavor would be fun.

However, I am looking forward to the Key West trip next month. I plan on finishing that half (which I’m really actually excited about because it’s a flat run, unlike what I’ve become accustomed to here in Atlanta) and spending the rest of the week relaxing and exploring.

Key West is one of my favorite spots! I spent my 40th birthday there and look forward to celebrating another one on the island, even if it is almost a decade later. There is something magical about the Keys; once you’re experienced its lively personality, it’s difficult to be anyplace else and NOT compare it to the standard you set while in the Florida Keys.

In addition to the run, my agenda for the week will be full of vacation excitement; a historic homes tour, several museums visits, multiple opportunities to convince my daughter to eat conch (she has to if she’s in Key West), and simply enjoying the good life. A life that is full of excitement and anticipation; one that is overflowing with love and friendship. A life that, for just a minute in this cold, dreary winter, will be spent in the blistering sunshine sipping frozen margaritas while gently swinging in a handmade hammock under the shade of a tall palm tree after a short kayak trip in the Gulf of Mexico. …and only an itty-bitty, tiny amount of running is required.

How do you “escape” winter when given the chance?

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